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RESULTS: DIVISION 1 | DIVISION 2 | DIVISION 3 | DIVISION 4 Race Dates for Key West 2007: January 15- 19
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FEBRUARY 1, 2006
Warm Winds and Great Competition Highlight Acura Key West 2006
-- Wrap Up on 5 Days, 9 Races, 19 New Class Champions
Professional and amateur sailors flock to Key West for the same reasons: Warm weather, strong wind and tough competition. Acura Key West 2006, presented by Nautica, delivered on all counts.
Sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s prevailed all week. Consistent breeze blew throughout the five-day regatta with a wide range of conditions challenging the 286 boats from 37 states and 14 countries. As usual, racing was extremely tight with the winners in most of 19 classes not being determined until the final day.
"We're very excited to be here. It's 10 degrees and the power is out at my home in Greenwich (Conn). It's warm and sunny here and the sailing conditions are fantastic," was the midweek comment of Thomas Stark, owner of the TP52 Rush.
While America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race programs have many of the world's top professional locked up, there was once again a who's who of "rock stars" at Acura Key West 2006. Among the notable tacticians on hand were Russell Coutts, John Kostecki, Gavin Brady, Dee Smith, Adrian Stead and Mark Reynolds.
Also competing were a pair of legends - Wisconsin boatbuilder Buddy Melges and sailmaker Tom Whidden.
"This is one of the best big-boat regattas in the world. That's why we all keep coming back. We enjoy sailing here," said Coutts, who helped Mascalzone Latino capture the 25-boat Farr 40 class.
All nine races were held in winds of 11 knots or more with back-to-back days bringing big breeze. A 20-25 knot southeasterly combined with unusually heavy seas made for some thrilling action on Tuesday. It blew even harder on Wednesday with the wind speed building to 25-30 by late morning, making it a one-race day on 3 of the 4 divisions.
"This was the second-windiest Key West in which I've competed and I've been coming here a long time," said Dave Ullman, who topped the 60-boat Melges 24 fleet. "It was a great regatta - beautiful weather and terrific wind."
Once again, there was high praise for the top-notch race committee work. Principle Race Officers Peter Reggio, Bruce Golison, Dave Brennan and Wayne Bretsch postponed on the morning it was light, shortened courses on afternoons it was heavy and still got in all nine scheduled races.
"It's been a great week. Great wind, great competition, great venue for sailing," said Massimo Ferragamo, owner of the victorious Swan 45 Bellicosa. "As usual, Key West offered a variety of conditions, which really challenges the crew. The race committee did a perfect job all week, made all the right decisions."
Chuck Simon, co-owner of the T-10 Liquor Box, marveled at the professionalism the race committee displayed on the two heavy-air days. Starts were conducted, marks were moved and finishes were recorded just as easily as if it were a drifter on the Chesapeake Bay.
"After two days of lumpy conditions I can't say enough good things about the race committee. These guys are tough hombres," Simon said. "It's pretty good for us, we're out there sailing and not bouncing around at anchor. Those guys are taking the worst of it... talk about gutsy."
Action on all four courses was intense and hotly contested.
On Division 1, the Swan 45 World Championship was decided by a mere point while the highly-competitive Farr 40 class finished with the top three boats within three points.
On Division 2, Aera and Moneypenny staged a remarkable week-long duel in IRC 1, trading leads that never rose above two points with Aera ultimately prevailing. Sister Golden Hair edged Boys Are Back in Town by one point in PHRF 2.
"Racing has been surprisingly close. The rating system has done a very good job of comparing the boats," said Dee Smith, tactician aboard Moneypenny. "We tied a race, which is really rare. Other races have been decided by seconds. You can't get much closer."
Racing in Melges 24 class, the regatta's largest with 60 entries, was predictably wild with four different boats holding first place at some point and the winner not decided until Friday. Another week-long battle waged on Division 3 came in the J/80 class with Synergy nipping Rumor by three points.
Finally, five of seven classes on Division 4 were decided by five points or less. Temptress nipped Kokopelli by a point in PHRF 4.
Ferragamo and his crew aboard Bellicosa came from behind to capture the Swan 45 Gold Cup for the World Championship, earning the Acura Trophy as Boat of the Week in the process.
El Ocaso, a J/120 skippered by Rick Wessland of Tiburon, Cal., picked up the Key West Trophy as PHRF Boat of the Week. Wesslund's team notched four bullets and finished no worse than fourth in winning a competitive 15-boat class by 12 points.
Moneypenny, owned by Jim Swartz of Newport, R.I., won the inaugural US-IRC National Championship by the slimmest of margins over Aera, the Kerr 55 owned by Nick Lykiardopulo of Cowes, United Kingdom.
USA West captured the Nautica Trophy as winner of the International Team competition, which combines the scores of Swan 45, Farr 40 and Melges 24 entries from the same country. Craig Speck's VIM placed fourth in Swan 45, Fred and Steve Howe's Warpath took third in Farr 40 while Dave Ullman's Pegasus 505 won Melges 24 as USA West totaled 90 points - 19 points clear of Italy 1.
A spectacular week of racing off Key West in mid January had many owners looking forward to more of the same in early March off Miami. That's particular true in the professionally-crewed Transpac 52 class. The 2006 Rolex TP52 Global Championship at Acura Miami Race Week will be the TP52’s inaugural championship.
Stay Calm II, skippered by Stuart Robinson of London, will be the early favorite after topping a deep, eight-boat fleet at Key West.
Key West sets the stage for the Acura Grand Prix Trophies awarded at the conclusion of Acura Miami Race Week (March 9 – 12). These prestigious awards debuted in 2005 and recognize the top boats with the best combined score from both Key West and Miami Race Weeks. TP52s, Swan 45s, Farr 40s, J/105s, Mumm 30s and Melges 24s are currently eligible.
Both the Key West and Miami events are part of the new US-IRC Gulf Stream Series.
Bruce Gardner, who won PHRF 5 aboard the Beneteau 10-meter L'Outrage, was looking ahead to Miami while negotiating the rough midweek seas at Key West.
"L'Outrage likes the waves, but not enough for me to get careless. This event is too important and I plan on following up with the Miami regatta, mostly because it's another Premiere Racing event," said Gardner, a resident of Annapolis, Md. "With sponsors like Acura and Nautica aboard, it's a good combination of professionalism and quality."
Ferragamo, an Italian native who now lives in New York, captured the Swan 45 World Championship in dramatic fashion. Star class veteran Howie Schiebler called tactics aboard Bellicosa, which jumped from third to first in the 16-boat field on Thursday then held the top spot with a 6-8 line on Friday.
"This is absolutely fantastic!" Ferragamo said. "We have always been second or third in the major regattas so this is the crowning moment. We have been working really hard to get better and this week the whole team was in sync."
Ferragamo and crew celebrated the big victory with chocolate-flavored blender drinks, delivered dockside courtesy of gracious VIM owner Craig Speck. A few docks down, Mascalzone Latino skipper Vincenzo Onorato and tactician Russell Coutts clanked beers and exclaimed "Salute!"
Key West was their first regatta together and resulted in a rousing victory in a loaded 25-boat fleet. Mascalzone Latino seized control of the class midweek by placing fourth or better in four straight races, then expertly covered closest rivals Fiamma and Warpath down the stretch.
"We were sailing the boat faster and faster as the week went along. Boat speed is always the key and we were able to come back in a bunch of races," said Coutts, the three-time America's Cup champion.
TeamBold, skippered by Nelson Stephenson of Southport, Conn., put forth a dominating performance in the Mumm 30 National Championship. Tactician Brian Bissell and a crew of former collegiate All-Americans helped Stephenson win seven of nine starts with a pair of thirds squeezed in.
"We were building a picket fence and we decided to put a gate in," said Stephenson, who earned his first class victory in eight trips to Key West.
Swan 45: Bellicosa, Massimo Ferragamo, New York
Farr 40: Mascalzone Latino, Vincenzo Onorato, Napoli, Italy
Mumm 30: TeamBold, Nelson Stephenson, Southport, Conn.
Perhaps the most entertaining battle of the week was between Aera and Moneypenny, a pair of well-sailed and evenly-matched big boats.
Lykiardopulo and his team aboard Aera won three of the last four races to capture IRC 1. However, Swartz took home the US-IRC National Championship by virtue of a complicated formula that measures margin of victory with average corrected speed .
This was the third major regatta for Swartz, who took delivery of the custom-built Swan six months beforehand. It was also a measure of vindication since Moneypenny did not fare well in a tough IRC class at the San Francisco Big Boat Series.
"Winning this championship would be huge for the 601 and change the perception it's not a good IRC boat," said Swartz, a venture capitalist who was unable to sail the final day due to a business commitment.
"It's been a fantastic week of sailing. Conditions have been excellent, race committee work has been stellar and I've been blessed with a great crew."
Gold Digger, a J/44 owned by James Bishop of Jamestown, R.I., captured IRC 2 in convincing fashion - counting all first-place finishes. Jim Bishop Jr., calls tactics for his father, who has competed in all 19 editions of Key West Race Week.
"I have a good boat and a crew that is like family," said the elder Bishop, who took third in the US-IRC National Championship series.
Stay Calm II, a brand new boat that Robinson put considerable effort into designing and building, won or placed second in six of nine races in the TP52 class. Tactician Adrian Stead and eight other members of GBR Challenge crewed for Robinson, who took delivery of the TP52 on Jan. 6.
"This is our first regatta with a new boat in a very competitive fleet so we are quite happy," Robinson said. "I've been very pleased with our teamwork and boat speed."
Wesslund, the PHRF Boat of the Week winner, is a former Porsche racing driver and successful high school football coach. He knows something about winning and applies the same competitive philosophy to sailboat racing.
"This whole team is a family of like-minded, dedicated and focused competitors," Wesslund said. "It's relationships, first and foremost. The whole thing is all about communication."
El Ocaso won four of five races in heavy air on Tuesday through Thursday to build a comfortable lead. It was Wesslund's first class win in four trips to Key West.
Transpac 52: Stay Calm II, Stuart Robinson, London, UK
IRC 1: Aera, Kerr 55, Nick Lykiardopulo, Cowes, UK
PHRF 2: Sister Golden Hair, Farr IMS 40, Genesis Racing LLC, Charleston, S.C.
Melges 32: New Wave, Michael Carroll, Lake Geneva, WI
IRC 2: Gold Digger, James Bishop, Jamestown, R.I.
PHRF 3: El Ocaso, J/120, Rick Wesslund, Tiburon, CA
Racing in the Melges 24 class went down to the wire with California's Dave Ullman tied on points with Italy's Riccardo Simoneschi. Ullman pulled out the win for Team Pegasus with a 2-3 line on Friday while Simoneschi faded to fourth due to finishes of 5-10.
Blu Moon, a Swiss entry owned by Franco Rossini and steered by Olympian Chris Rast, posted a third and first on the final day to place second - four points behind Ullman's
Reigning Etchells world champ Jeff Linton (St. Petersburg, Fla.) called tactics for Ullman, who won two races and finished second or third in four others. It marked the fourth time the Newport Beach-based sailmaker has won in the Melges 24 class at Key West.
Jay Lutz of Houston, Texas took home the J/80 Midwinter Championship. Lutz steered Synergy to five bullets in eight races that counted in dethroning Rick Schaffer and C'est Nasty.
"No pun intended, but this really is the premiere event for sailors," Synergy crew member Joe Taylor said. "If you want to square off against the best of the best, this is the place you've got to be."
Masquerade gave a command performance in the 29-boat J/105 class. Thomas Coates skippered the San Francisco entry to five bullets and three runner-up results in posting a resounding 18-point victory in the Midwinter Championship.
"This is a big, big win for us. It's been very competitive out there and I'm just glad we've been on the right side of a few puffs during the week," said Coates, the defending class champ at Key West.
Melges 24: Pegasus 505, Team Pegasus / Dave Ullman, Newport Beach, Cal.
J/105: Masquerade, Thomas Coates, San Francisco, Cal.
J/80: Synergy, Jay Lutz, Houston, Texas
L'Outrage, a powerfully-built boat, reveled in the rough seas and counted bullets in six of nine starts.
"We had fabulous preparation and outstanding crew work," said Gardner, who last captured class honors at Key West 2000.
Gardner has participated in the race week off Key West for a decade and has learned the key to success is holding the boat together. This was one of the roughest regattas in recent memory with 20-25 knots winds on Tuesday and Wednesday along with heavy seas.
"Conservative, by-the-book sailing is the key to survival," he said. "After losing my rig my first year here I learned my lesson - nothing fancy, just basic sailing."
Rocketeer II, owned by Ken Winters and steered by multihull legend Randy Smyth, posted six bullets in winning the Corsair 28 class.
It was a very breezy week for the light trimarans, and Smyth enjoyed every minute of it.
"Speed makes you look good. I've been pushing Rocketeer to new levels and we haven't been breaking equipment," he said. "We've been getting air and thinking about where we'll be landing - a little like a wind surfer."
There was another heated fight between C&C 99 rivals Trumpeter and Breakaway. Bob Wilson's entry from Toronto counted firsts or seconds in seven races in posting an eight-point win over Tom Sawchuk's team from Lake Lanier, Ga.
A large part of the rivalry involves National Hockey League allegiance as Wilson and Trumpeter are Toronto Maple Leafs fans while Sawchuk and the Breakaway crew root for the Detroit Red Wings.
"We're not professionals, but professionalism defines our attitude. There's no yelling at some guy to do his job," Wilson said. "That's important when you're out in rough water and heavy wind... hoping the boat holds together."
Corsair 28: Rocketeer II, Ken Winters/Randy Smyth, Fort Walton Beach, FL
J/109: Mojo, Steve Rhyne, Kemah, Texas
PHRF 4: Temptress, SR 33, Robert Hibdon, Charleston, S.C.
PHRF 5: L'Outrage, Beneteau 10M, Bruce Gardner, Annapolis, MD
C&C 99: Trumpeter, Bob Wilson, Toronto, Ontario
PHRF 6: Liquor Box, T-10, Chuck Simon/Bill Buckles, Rocky River, OH and Key West, FL
PHRF 7: Mistress, S2 7.9, Bryan Coon, Huntington, NY
BOAT OF DAY
Monday: Nautica Day
Norwegian Steam, Farr 40, Evind Astrup
Tuesday: City of Key West Day
Pegasus 505, Melges 24, Team Pegasus / Dave Ullman
Wednesday: Mount Gay Rum Day
Jeroboam Canova, Swan 45, Vittoria Codecasa
Thursday: Industry Partner Day
Storm, J/109, Rick Lyall
Friday: Acura Day
Groovederci, Mumm 30, Deneen Demourkas
INTERNATIONAL TEAM COMPETITION – The Nautica Trophy
Swan 45: VIM, Craig Speck, Newport, RI
Farr 40: Warpath, Fred and Steve Howe, San Diego, CA
Melges 24: Pegasus 505, Team Pegasus / Dave Ullman, Newport Beach, CA
PHRF BOAT OF WEEK – The Key West Trophy
PHRF 3: El Ocaso (J/120), Rick Wesslund, Tiburon, CA
BOAT OF WEEK – The Acura Trophy
Swan 45: Bellicosa, Massimo Ferragamo, New York
Title Sponsor Acura is the Official Vehicle. Presenting Sponsor Nautica represents the Official Timekeeper (Nautica Watches) and the Official Footwear. Day Sponsor Mount Gay® Rum is the Official Rum. Supporting sponsors are B&G (Official Marine Electronics), Lewmar (Official Marine Hardware), and Samson Rope Technologies (Official Cordage). Supplier Spaten is the Official Beer.
Acura Key West is also supported by The Florida Keys & Key West Tourism Council. The Historic Seaport at the Key West Bight is the Official Site.
About the Industry Partner Program
Twenty-eight Industry Partners bring their support through a program that is now in its 5th year. A record number of Partners participated in the Hospitality and Exhibit Area on site: Bainbridge International, Dimension-Polyant Sailcloth, Gowrie, Barden & Brett, Hall Spars and Rigging, J/Boats, Melges Performance Sailboats, Nautor’s Swan, North Sails, and SLAM.
Acura Key West 2006, Presented by Nautica
Premiere Racing, Inc.
67B Front Street,
Marblehead, MA, 01945
Web Site: www.Premiere-Racing.com
Results, news and photos are available at
Royalty Free Photos are available to qualified media. Contact: Jeanne@Premiere-Racing.com
For more information on Premiere Racing,
Acura Key West 2006, Presented by Nautica
Acura Miami Race Week 2006 and their Sponsors and Partners please contact Premiere Racing.
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